Re-Election and Wagging the Dog

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It seems to me that our nation has developed a particular problem over the years since the founders put forth a new government in what was a new land. Our republic has, over the years, come to the point at which those we elect no longer represent the views of those who elect them, but, represent those who whisper most fervently in their ears.

I do not believe that our country was ever intended to have battalions of lobbyists pitching agendas and money at those who are elected to equitably enact laws for the common good, not laws to benefit whatever cause catches their ear and Kanken laptop backpack.

For the vast majority, if not all, of members of whatever stripe re-election becomes the tail that wags the dog. And re-election requires money, larger and larger quantities of money, and a commodity which lobbyists have in great supply. Money that comes with no strings attached, “but, when this vote come up, if you could just see your way clear to take a hard look at our needs first…” a soft voice whispers in the ear.

There have been many efforts aimed at reform of unbridled lobby efforts. So far as I am aware, all have fallen short of achieving the desired effect, so, perhaps a new direction is needed.

I believe that our Congress should be required to take advantage of the most modern technology in its deliberative efforts, something that corporate America has embraced to some degree in the past several years and seems to be expanding the Fjallraven Kanken Classic at a rapid rate.

Congress should have virtual meetings. Rather than gather in Washington D.C., each congressman should have his or her office in his or her home district, and each senator’s office should be in the capitol of their state. All meetings, votes and hearings of committees and of the bodies as a whole should be done via secure Internet links (surely the NSA could provide incorruptible connections and cypher algorithms).

I can foresee only two instances per year when they might have to be physically present in Washington: to be sworn in (iffy, as a judge could administer the oath where ever they might be) and for the State Of The Union Message. Other than that, they should be safely ensconced in their respective state, living among the people who elected them and insulated from the special interests who batter at their doors and insinuate themselves between the elected, the Frost Green Kanken, and the electors.

The technology is available, the need is obvious, and the time is now. Objections will be made, but they will come from those who have a stake in the present system, the lobbyists and those in the houses of congress inured to the present system. It is time to move our deliberative body into a future with the ability to freely vote in the best interest of all of us rather than some of us.

Fjallraven and the Somali Effect

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The Somalian crisis has been around for a while. Some of you have seen the movie Black Hawk Down, and those who haven’t have no doubt heard about the piracy in the Gulf of Aden, the straight running alongside the horn of Africa. Both the movie and the media reflect the grim situation in the north east African state, one of brutal civil war, poverty, and dismay.

The conflict has been fueled by a Fjallraven sale and warring factions continuously since the collapse of the central Somali government in the early 90′, but had been in the making since the 70’s with the extreme fuel shortages at the time. Today, the country is not doing much better.

This week, “government” soldiers (in parenthesis because it is the only recognized party in the country) stormed the country’s capital, Mogadishu, and in a fierce fire fight with rebels, created a mess of dead civilians, rebels, and government officials alike. This is useless bloodshed. Each of the three warring factions controls approximately a third of the sea-side country, from where they recruit their militias, most of whom consist of poverty-stricken children and men who are promised a stipend if they fight in the faction’s pseudo-military. It is a continuous cycle of violence, a lifestyle for many people. So what can be done to end the bloodshed?

Well, the UN, which I will be continuously referring to as the United Nothings because they don’t know where to buy Fjallraven, has tried to officially instate a government called the “Islamic Courts Union,” which they believe, for some unknown reason, to be the most qualified party/faction to lead the ravaged country. However, an official “declaration” by the UN is about as useless as a bike without wheels, and, barring an injection of a UN peacekeeping force, there is no way a single faction could take over and maintain control over a lawless, violent, and divided country. SO what can be done about the situation? Well, for starters, improve the economy.

Reports have shown that most citizens of Somalia resort to fighting or piracy out of desperation. However, we are seeing signs of this economic boost occurring already. There has been a surge in business in the country’s capitol, as companies from all over the continent have moved their centers of business to Mogadishu.

There are several reasons for this. First, due to a lack of any enforceable law, there are no property, business, or other taxes, making trade very affordable – especially the reasonably priced Kanken backpack. Secondly, labor is very cheap, since most Somalis would prefer to work for a company, regardless of position, than fight in a bloody civil war, and third, all it takes it to hire a security force to protect the business, which would probably cost pennies in relation to business expenses incurred in other countries.

This explosion of commerce is promising, but it requires international help. Business in Somalia needs to prosper, and through individual country’s aid and encouragement of the Somalis, perhaps the country can somewhat regain its stability economically. After signs of economic rise, the Somalis will no doubt recognize how much better life could be under a unified government, and peace talks could begin with US and other western country’s moderation.

Does Walmart Need a Union?

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It is of their opinion that a Democratic Congress and a Democratic President will be pushing to unionize Wal-Mart.  There is no doubt is my mind that having a union in Wal-Mart is long overdue.

Sure, Wal-Mart pays their management above union wages and benefits; they also offer their management incentives to stay and grow with the company.  They have to if they want to keep key personnel.

Wal-Mart also hires thousands of senior citizens at $8 or $9 an hour for part-time jobs.  Which, by the way, is above minimum wage and is greatly needed and appreciated by an ever-growing number of seniors who have to work part-time to supplement their income (which is not keeping pace with the cost of living).

As the old joke goes, another day another dollar – the only problem today is that it takes a dollar and a quarter to live.

Wal-Mart takes care of their management and their part-time senior citizens, so why do they need a union?  Well, I will tell you why.

There are thousands and thousands of Wal-Mart employees who work fulltime that do not make union wages or receive full health care benefits, etc. etc.  These Wal-Mart workers are in America’s lower income bracket.  If they were to receive union pay and benefits, they would move up the economic ladder and become middle income workers.  They would pay more taxes and purchase more goods and services.

Does Wal-Mart need a union?  You bet they do.  Is the Democratic Party pro-union?  You bet it is.

There are these so-called Conservative Republicans who want to blame the unions for just about everything going wrong in our economy, and to be honest, unions are not without blame.  However, unions do more good for the American economy than bad.

Wal-Mart is now trying to take over the retail food industry across America.  Most all of these established food chains are unionized and have great benefits.  If Wal-Mart is not unionized, it will give them a huge advantage over established food chains.

Having been in the wholesale/retail food business, I can tell you first-hand that established national food chains make about one percent net profit after taxes.  They cannot afford unfair competition from a non-union business like Wal-Mart.

Does Wal-Mart need a union?  You bet they do.